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"The Power of Art Cannot Be ‘Overturned’"

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Art by Rachel Silva / Instagram @missrachelsilva

Q&A With Artist and Activist Rachel Silva

Written by Clairesse Schweig 

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Meet Rachel Silva, a multimedia visual artist whose artwork went viral on TikTok for its powerful political activism. Rachel currently resides in Los Angeles, California and, aside from creating personal work and art for gallery shows, has animated for popular sitcom's Bob’s Burgers and The Great North. After the historic overturn of Roe v. Wade by SCOTUS on June 24th, Rachel used her creative talents to combat the unjust ruling through art. She posted an eye-catching TikTok responding to the verdict with a jarring piece inscribed with “If I Die Trying To Receive An Abortion Lay My Rotting Corpse On The Steps Of The Supreme Court.” The video has massed over 2.0M views and 479.0K likes and continues to spark conversation and community. Additionally, Rachel has pledged 100% of the profit's received from print and digital sales of  “Lay Me On The Steps” to the National Network of Abortion Funds. 

Q: Why did you choose to create "LAY ME ON THE STEPS" / what was the inspiration for the piece?

 

A: I made this piece as I was journaling about the news of Roe V Wade being overturned…I have been keeping art journals for the last 10 years, they are a safe space to explore ideas without the pressures of having to be a finished piece. I like to play with collage, loose paint, and other mediums so that I can get my ideas out quickly…. I was inspired by the late David Wojnarowicz and the protest styles of ACT UP. They are still fighting to draw attention to the modern HIV epidemic. I look up to them a lot, I like their style. 

 

 

Q: What motivated your choice to donate 100% of the profits from sales of the prints / digitals to the National Network of Abortion Funding?

 

A: I felt it was the only right thing to do and the obvious choice given the subject matter. We live in such a capitalistic society and I want to move away from that knee jerk reaction to make a profit out of any opportunity, which is so prevalent in this country. I have enough money to get by, and I can make art. If one of my pieces can make a bit of difference, then I want to do that.

 

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Q: What does your art convey to the current political and social climate of the United States after SCOTUS overturned Roe v. Wade? 

 

A: I think it conveys anger. I also mean this quite literally, and I think a lot of women/people with uteruses are feeling this same way. I am so glad it has resonated with so many people, and made them feel seen.

Q: What do you believe the role of creatives should / could be within political activism?

A: I think our role is to inspire, and reflect the emotions of ourselves and others in a public way. Creatives are emotional translators, and recorders of the times they live in. The importance of this can not be understated. Art moves people, and it always will. 

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Q: Do we have a responsibility as creatives to start conversations using art? 

A: I think this is a natural by-product of being a creative. I don’t think any artist should feel pressured to start conversations. If a creative is being true to themselves, the conversations will happen. And each creative can decide for themselves how involved they want to be in those conversations.

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Q: How has social media broadened your platform and audience, and for you, what is social media’s role in uplifting creative voices? 

 

A: It has broadened my platform so that thousands of people see my work instead of only a few. For this, I am very grateful and I think this is a powerful tool. Social media also does cause undeniable harm to the human psyche. I have a personal rule of asking myself “who is this helping?” before I post anything. Am I bringing awareness to something? Am I bringing joy or humor? Am I making someone feel seen or comforted? I think we can take control of some of the negative aspects of social media by asking these questions and uplifting creatives ourselves, instead of just leaving it to the algorithms.

Digital files of “Lay Me On The Steps” are linked on Rachel’s Instagram (@missrachelsilva) and TikTok (@msrachelsilva), along with more of her expressive art. To further support Rachel’s artistic mission and reproductive freedom within the United States, use the links below to explore petitions and organizations working to fight for bodily autonomy and reproductive rights for all people. And if you’re an artist, driven to create by the current social and political climate, reach out to us at BIRDIE ZINE. Let us highlight the power of your art. 

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